Why spend 5-days ideating a product already built?

We often get asked “why do you spend 5-days with new customers exploring the idea for your product when it is already built?” It is true, product ideation is a foundational activity when building a brand new product. But it has an equally foundational role when implementing already-built products too. Even when they have been implemented multiple times over. Why is that? Isn’t that an exercise in vain since the product’s features are already established?

Not necessarily. Product ideation is not just about dreaming up (new) features for a product. Product ideation is about understanding the problem the product is going solve, for whom and how. How often have you experienced, or heard of, buying a product only to see it disappoint during or after implementation because it’s not what you or the team expected? Or equally worse, it was what you expected but organizationally is not delivering the intended benefits? A solution in search of problem, in this case.

Product ideation helps focus everyone’s attention early in the implementation process on the problem(s) the product is to solve. Technology implementations are about enabling organizational outcomes, not implementing technology for technology’s sake.

Once those problems are clearly identified, debated and agreed, attention must turn to gaining a deeper understanding of who has those problems. Who is the audience for the product, i.e. it’s users? What are their individual and shared characteristics? How do they behave in certain situations? And people are heavily defined by their local communities and regions. This is why one implementation can go completely different from another despite seemingly very similar product features being implemented.

With the user groups identified, debated and agreed, care is then placed on understanding the top 5 product features that will be critical to those user groups. It is only here that we start talking about technology. We start to understand any gaps between need and capability. We can plan how to bridge those gaps by refinement of needs and configuration of the product. This insight will fast-track the product installation and configuration activity later on.

Product ideation is a valuable activity for situating everyone on the same field at the outset of an implementation project and to reduce the risk of deflated expectations and surprises later on (no one likes surprises, unless it’s your birthday).

For more information on how we do product ideation in just 5-days and what gets produced at the end, see Arter Kirkwood & Associates How we do Product Ideation in just 5 days!

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